Real-time marketing (RTM) may seem like a spiffy new concept but it's actually been around since the mid-90s. It was right about then companies discovered that, in some cases, months- or years-long marketing campaigns hamstrung their ability to be on the cutting edge of industry trends. Shorter campaigns and delivery cycles meant brands could be more adaptive to customers.
Real-time marketing languished in the background behind more traditional methods and then burst on the scene in the early 2000's with the advent of social media. Suddenly it was possible to find out what customers were talking about and respond in hours or minutes instead of months or days.
Take these examples, for instance.
● Warburton's Bakery launched a short but memorable RTM campaign and got caught up in baby fever when Prince George was born.
● Arby's turned music star Pharrell's unusual hat into an opportunity to gather charitable donations.
- Arby's (@Arbys) March 3, 2014
● Several companies used the method at the 2014 World Cup to promote their brands and engage customers.
- Nike Soccer (@nikesoccer) May 24, 2014
Now that brands realize they can capture the ear of the customer on social channels, there is a growing trend to take real-time marketing even further. Using consumer analytics and big data pulled from social channels, call center activity, mobile app activity, purchase history, and more, companies are poised to deliver individualized customer experiences.
As marketing expert Katrina Conn notes, "It's far more beneficial to understand what your customers are doing now, where they are located, and how they are engaging with your brand (which channels and devices) - all of this data allows the marketer to understand their customer's current context and update their profile which in turn enables them to engage customers with hyper-personalized communications that fit their needs in the present moment."
The history of real-time marketing may still be young, but it's clear that existing and emerging technology combined with the new immediacy of customer expectation means the method is here to stay.
Image: David Schott